Defending biodiversity and struggling against the onslaught of privatization of natural resources by the multinationals " these are the concerns that must guide the activities and positions of the peasants, indigenous people, and social organizations that are participating in the parallel program to the Conference of the Parties to the International Convention on Biological Diversity (COP-8) that is occurring between March 23 and 30 in Curitiba (Paraná).
In the analysis of Silvia Ribeiro, from the Mexican Group ETC, intellectual property and the use of genetically-modified products, mainly the terminator seed, are the topics that must be discussed.
"We need to unite to defend biodiversity. The question of seeds for example, is not just important for peasants or indigenous people, but affects all of society", she emphasizes.
Ribeiro points out that the expansion of the multinational corporations in the sector of seeds is one of the crucial topics to be discussed in the parallel activities. In 2003, according to data from the ETC Group, ten international corporations controlled 23% of the market of seeds. Today they control 48%. The corporations in this sector are also leading in the sector of agro-toxins.
Intellectual property is another topic being highlighted in the official conference as well as in the parallel activities. With the excuse of protecting industrialized products they manufacture from natural resources and of ending biopiracy, various multinational corporations have been pressuring governments to create patents on the animals and plants that are typical in their countries. So every time a rural worker wants to use the name of a chemical property or genetic parts of a patented plant he would have to pay a fee to the corporation.
"To register knowledge or a living organism taken from nature means to remove it from the people, to turn it into a commodity", Ribeiro charges. The question of patents also includes the royalties charged for genetically-modified seeds.
The non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and the social movements point to the battle over transgenics (or genetically-modified organisms–GMOs) as the most important that will be fought in Curitiba. The businesses that dominate the market of seeds have the intention of overthrowing the moratorium on the planting and sale of suicide seeds that was defined by the United Nations.
According to the U.S. Agriculture Department, Terminator technology, which creates sterile seeds that can be used only once by the farmer and cannot be reproduced, was created by Delta & Pine Corporation in 1998. Understanding that this type of seed would take away the independence of farmers, various countries and international agencies opposed its use.
Francisca Rodriguez, a member of the Chilean organization Anamuri (National Association of Women Peasants and Indigenous People of Chile) states that the discussion around transgenics highlights once again the importance of seeds belonging to farmers. “Seeds are the basis of human food and belong to the people. They cannot become commodities” she states.
Igor Felippe Santos – Minga Infomativa